As of late, I have been involved in multifarious activities aiming at revitalizing an interest in improvisation among music students at the university level. These efforts have resulted in organizing several meetings with musicians devoted to propagating the art of non-idiomatic improvisation and disseminating it out side of academia. These meetings became a regular event in my very busy schedule as a composer during my last year at University of Arizona.
Hollow Graphic — leahnetsky.com , visual artist Leah Netsky's project, which I have been part of.
Hollow Graphic features eleven musicians’ spontaneous responses to photographs of patterns such as berries and bubbles as graphic musical scores.
Because of their non-conventional mode of creation, the scores lack certain fixed aspects of traditional musical notation, such as measures and note values. However, each pattern’s position in relation to the lines of the staff is universally translatable. The colors, textures, shapes, and other aspects of the image are more ambiguous, leading to varied interpretations among the musicians. Through a more intuitive system of dictating a note or chord’s tone, progression, or duration, these graphic scores deconstruct traditional musical notation and suggest an alternative, multisensory mode of reading an image.
The scores are presented as light boxes and holographic projections, which change in response to the corresponding audio and video of musicians performing. These changes reveal which score is being played, and expose similarities and differences between the musicians’ unique interpretations. Sound is paired with image to illustrate a new musical semiotic system while simultaneously invoking synesthetic experience in the viewer.
Sentient Lacuna explores an experimental concept and process of a non-idiomatic improvisation through the prism of acoustic-electronic sound synthesis. However esoteric and intangible, these processes of mixing electronic and acoustic mediums occur in the lacuna between composed and improvised environments allowing creation of another organically formulated music paradigm.Through our art, we strive to propagate non-idiomatic and trans-idiomatic improvisation as a live element of the compositional creation. We believe that music can only stay alive when it is in a constant transformational vortex and that every rendition of the same piece brings something new to continue defining its structure and form. We strongly believe in an organic process of blurring the boundaries between improvisation and composition and allowing performance freedom to define these constituents.
by French-American videographer Karine Laval and Jakub Rojek
At the center of the collaboration between visual artist Karine Laval and composer Jakub Rojek is an idea of email correspondence as basis for creation of series of collages involving video and music works. Laval and Rojek met briefly during a collaboration on the project “Memorandum to the Victims of 911” held at Spectrum, NYC back in 2015, and which had helped spawn the idea of later collaboration. Both, Karine and Jakub share a penchant for
installation/projection and for interdisciplinary projects and since they live in different cities it only seemed natural to facilitate collaboration through the email exchange first. They thought this would be a great idea to design an entire project around the visual/musical conversation. It's an interesting take on the tradition of epistolary correspondence or even the surrealists' "cadavre exquis" (exquisite corpse). Another interesting aspect of writing to the screen is that the music is created as an immediate, uncontemplated, response to the visual creation unlike music that usually accompanies the screen and which plays secondary role. Here, we are able to witness the fusion of two simultaneous artistic expressions which are presented as a result of an interactive discourse. The two ultimately create a polyphony of visual and musical spheres with their own respective dynamics. The merging of two paradigms serves as an exploratory ground for discovering of their new (visual, musical) identities and narrative created between them.
In addition to creating a full scale project, “Video Music Collages”, we plan a release of a DVD documenting the work as well as an LP with all compositions and Karine’s graphics to accompany them. Along with release of a DVD we envisioned few performances to present the finished collaboration as video installations/live performances in New York and Chicago (and possibly elsewhere).
Piano etudes take on a new shape in a form of Novatudas. For those who know piano etudes by Ligeti, or Lutoslawski, it will be a refreshing mesh up emulating their work in addition to surprising metro-rhythmic and harmonic nuances . Novatuda No. 3 might even sound like a clever response to Chopin's No.1 Opus 10, with its lavish arpeggios and unsettling harmonies.
Another project currently underway is a piece for piano and orchestra, Iconocerto No. 1. The name itself betrays the intended approach here. It is as somewhat iconoclastic and an amusing take on the form of piano concerto and its formal implications. Piano is treated here with a very reserved and distanced attitude, nonetheless is given a space to shine and feel more like a member of an ensemble rather than a soloist.
Self-Imposed Exile, came to existence quite recently, while Aaron Kruziki and I were preparing for the recording session of my clarinet sonata part of the recording was supposed to be an improvisation, or a series of improvisations to be more exact. Yet, the recording session presented an excellent opportunity for a sound designer Shaun Sutkus to capture some of the magnificent acoustics of Steinway Hall Rotunda, in which we were recording, and to further work together on development of the sound application used in a live performance. We hope that adding audio technology as an intercepting element in our live performances would push our music in a new direction. While, this ensemble is primarily devoted to premiering my chamber pieces, we are also very open to spontaneous improvisation, often done on the spot in front of the audience. We strongly feel that, alongside our classical nature and love of classical music, there is a deeply rooted and insatiable appetite for improvising, and sonic exploration which seems to be intrinsic to our personalities.
Post-Decadent Bourgeoisie Parlor, is a composition/performance collaboration, which encompasses an unorthodox approach to piano composition as seen through the bridge between classical and jazz idioms. The project touches stylistically on a broad tradition of classical piano transcriptions of the past, with elements of piano slapstick humor a la Victor Borge, with occasional tinges of jazz and improvisational language as well.
It is informed stylistically by various influences I have emulated as a composer over the years. It reflects my interests in, both, the history and development of piano transcription technique, 20th century compositional practices as demonstrated in works of Steve Reich and other minimalist composers, and even elements of musical pastiche e.g. Scriabin’s early piano music. Yet, it inevitably touches on technical aspect of piano performance and performance practices in general as it is, part compositional, part performance related endeavor. As an improviser, on the other hand, I was inevitably bound to have employed elements of contemporary/jazz improvisational language, or rather what seems like a transcribed improvisation interpolated and intertwined into a larger musical narrative. As I progressed with my project I viewed those elements as inextricably bound up and essential to what I have envisioned artistically, which is to have virtuosic, minimal, and improvisational components respectively and exposed on various levels, and which are at same time crucial to the compositional process. It is certainly a positive reminiscence of my first compositional endeavors, when I was still a teenager, as it is where I actually started my journey as a composer (with piano music.)